Law:Title 15. Regulating Political Funds And Campaigns from Chapter 255. Regulating Political Advertising And Campaign Communications (Texas)

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Chapter 255. Regulating Political Advertising And Campaign Communications

Section  255.001.  Required Disclosure On Political Advertising.

(a) A person may not knowingly cause to be published, distributed, or broadcast political advertising containing express advocacy that does not indicate in the advertising:

(1)  that it is political advertising; and

(2)  the full name of:

(A)  the person who paid for the political advertising;

(B)  the political committee authorizing the political advertising; or

(C)  the candidate or specific-purpose committee supporting the candidate, if the political advertising is authorized by the candidate.

(b)  Political advertising that is authorized by a candidate, an agent of a candidate, or a political committee filing reports under this title shall be deemed to contain express advocacy.

(c)  A person may not knowingly use, cause or permit to be used, or continue to use any published, distributed, or broadcast political advertising containing express advocacy that the person knows does not include the disclosure required by Subsection (a). A person is presumed to know that the use of political advertising is prohibited by this subsection if the commission notifies the person in writing that the use is prohibited. A person who learns that political advertising signs, as defined by Section 255.007, that have been distributed do not include the disclosure required by Subsection (a) or include a disclosure that does not comply with Subsection (a) does not commit a continuing violation of this subsection if the person makes a good faith attempt to remove or correct those signs. A person who learns that printed political advertising other than a political advertising sign that has been distributed does not include the disclosure required by Subsection (a) or includes a disclosure that does not comply with Subsection (a) is not required to attempt to recover the political advertising and does not commit a continuing violation of this subsection as to any previously distributed political advertising.

(d)  This section does not apply to:

(1)  tickets or invitations to political fund-raising events;

(2)  campaign buttons, pins, hats, or similar campaign materials; or

(3)  circulars or flyers that cost in the aggregate less than $500 to publish and distribute.

(e)  A person who violates this section is liable to the state for a civil penalty in an amount determined by the commission not to exceed $4,000.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 249, Sec. 2.23, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.



Section  255.002.  Rates For Political Advertising.

(a) The rate charged for political advertising by a radio or television station may not exceed:

(1)  during the 45 days preceding a general or runoff primary election and during the 60 days preceding a general or special election, the broadcaster's lowest unit charge for advertising of the same class, for the same time, and for the same period; or

(2)  at any time other than that specified by Subdivision (1), the amount charged other users for comparable use of the station.

(b)  The rate charged for political advertising that is printed or published may not exceed the lowest charge made for comparable use of the space for any other purposes.

(c)  In determining amounts charged for comparable use, the amount and kind of space or time used, number of times used, frequency of use, type of advertising copy submitted, and any other relevant factors shall be considered.

(d)  Discounts offered by a newspaper or magazine to its commercial advertisers shall be offered on equal terms to purchasers of political advertising from the newspaper or magazine.

(e)  A person commits an offense if the person knowingly demands or receives or knowingly pays or offers to pay for political advertising more consideration than permitted by this section.

(f)  An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section 255.003.  Unlawful Use Of Public Funds For Political Advertising.

(a) An officer or employee of a political subdivision may not knowingly spend or authorize the spending of public funds for political advertising.

(b)  Subsection (a) does not apply to a communication that factually describes the purposes of a measure if the communication does not advocate passage or defeat of the measure.

(b-1)  An officer or employee of a political subdivision may not spend or authorize the spending of public funds for a communication describing a measure if the communication contains information that:

(1)  the officer or employee knows is false; and

(2)  is sufficiently substantial and important as to be reasonably likely to influence a voter to vote for or against the measure.

(c)  A person who violates Subsection (a) or (b-1) commits an offense.  An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

(d)  It is an affirmative defense to prosecution for an offense under this section or the imposition of a civil penalty for conduct under this section that an officer or employee of a political subdivision reasonably relied on a court order or an interpretation of this section in a written opinion issued by:

(1)  a court of record;

(2)  the attorney general; or

(3)  the commission.

(e)  On written request of the governing body of a political subdivision that has ordered an election on a measure, the commission shall prepare an advance written advisory opinion as to whether a particular communication relating to the measure does or does not comply with this section.

(f)  Subsections (d) and (e) do not apply to a port authority or navigation district.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Amended by:

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 644, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2009.

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 843, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2009.



Section  255.0031.  Unlawful Use Of Internal Mail System For Political Advertising.

(a) An officer or employee of a state agency or political subdivision may not knowingly use or authorize the use of an internal mail system for the distribution of political advertising.

(b)  Subsection (a) does not apply to:

(1)  the use of an internal mail system to distribute political advertising that is delivered to the premises of a state agency or political subdivision through the United States Postal Service; or

(2)  the use of an internal mail system by a state agency or municipality to distribute political advertising that is the subject of or related to an investigation, hearing, or other official proceeding of the agency or municipality.

(c)  A person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

(d)  In this section:

(1)  "Internal mail system" means a system operated by a state agency or political subdivision to deliver written documents to officers or employees of the agency or subdivision.

(2)  "State agency" means:

(A)  a department, commission, board, office, or other agency that is in the legislative, executive, or judicial branch of state government;

(B)  a university system or an institution of higher education as defined by Section 61.003, Education Code; or

(C)  a river authority created under the constitution or a statute of this state.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 229, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.



Section  255.004.  True Source Of Communication.

(a) A person commits an offense if, with intent to injure a candidate or influence the result of an election, the person enters into a contract or other agreement to print, publish, or broadcast political advertising that purports to emanate from a source other than its true source.

(b)  A person commits an offense if, with intent to injure a candidate or influence the result of an election, the person knowingly represents in a campaign communication that the communication emanates from a source other than its true source.

(c)  An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section  255.005.  Misrepresentation Of Identity.

(a) A person commits an offense if, with intent to injure a candidate or influence the result of an election, the person misrepresents the person's identity or, if acting or purporting to act as an agent, misrepresents the identity of the agent's principal, in political advertising or a campaign communication.

(b)  An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 864, Sec. 249, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.



Section  255.006.  Misleading Use Of Office Title.

(a) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly enters into a contract or other agreement to print, publish, or broadcast political advertising with the intent to represent to an ordinary and prudent person that a candidate holds a public office that the candidate does not hold at the time the agreement is made.

(b)  A person commits an offense if the person knowingly represents in a campaign communication that a candidate holds a public office that the candidate does not hold at the time the representation is made.

(c)  For purposes of this section, a person represents that a candidate holds a public office that the candidate does not hold if:

(1)  the candidate does not hold the office that the candidate seeks; and

(2)  the political advertising or campaign communication states the public office sought but does not include the word "for" in a type size that is at least one-half the type size used for the name of the office to clarify that the candidate does not hold that office.

(d)  A person other than an officeholder commits an offense if the person knowingly uses a representation of the state seal in political advertising.

(e)  An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 300, Sec. 30, eff. Aug. 30, 1993; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 864, Sec. 250, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1134, Sec. 9, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 62, Sec. 5.17, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 737, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.



Section  255.007.  Notice Requirement On Political Advertising Signs.

(a) The following notice must be written on each political advertising sign:

"NOTICE: IT IS A VIOLATION OF STATE LAW (CHAPTERS 392 AND 393, TRANSPORTATION CODE), TO PLACE THIS SIGN IN THE RIGHT-OF-WAY OF A HIGHWAY."

(b)  A person commits an offense if the person:

(1)  knowingly enters into a contract to print or make a political advertising sign that does not contain the notice required by Subsection (a); or

(2)  instructs another person to place a political advertising sign that does not contain the notice required by Subsection (a).

(c)  An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

(d)  It is an exception to the application of Subsection (b) that the political advertising sign was printed or made before September 1, 1997, and complied with Subsection (a) as it existed immediately before that date.

(e)  In this section, "political advertising sign" means a written form of political advertising designed to be seen from a road but does not include a bumper sticker.

Added by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 288, Sec. 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1991. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1134, Sec. 10, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1349, Sec. 71, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.



Section  255.008.  Disclosure On Political Advertising For Judicial Office.

(a) This section applies only to a candidate or political committee covered by Subchapter F, Chapter 253.

(b)  Political advertising by a candidate who files a declaration of intent to comply with the limits on expenditures under Subchapter F, Chapter 253, or a specific-purpose committee for supporting such a candidate may include the following statement: "Political advertising paid for by (name of candidate or committee) in compliance with the voluntary limits of the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act."

(c)  Political advertising by a candidate who files a declaration of intent to comply with the limits on expenditures under Subchapter F, Chapter 253, or a specific-purpose committee for supporting such a candidate that does not contain the statement prescribed by Subsection (b) must comply with Section 255.001.

(d)  Political advertising by a candidate who files a declaration of intent to exceed the limits on expenditures under Subchapter F, Chapter 253, or a specific-purpose committee for supporting such a candidate must include the following statement: "Political advertising paid for by (name of candidate or committee), (who or which) has rejected the voluntary limits of the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act."

(e)  The commission shall adopt rules providing for:

(1)  the minimum size of the disclosure required by this section in political advertising that appears on television or in writing; and

(2)  the minimum duration of the disclosure required by this section in political advertising that appears on television or radio.

(f)  A person who violates this section or a rule adopted under this section is liable for a civil penalty not to exceed:

(1)  $15,000, for a candidate for a statewide judicial office or a specific-purpose committee for supporting such a candidate;

(2)  $10,000, for a candidate for chief justice or justice, court of appeals, or a specific-purpose committee for supporting such a candidate; or

(3)  $5,000, for a candidate for any other judicial office covered by Subchapter F, Chapter 253, or a specific-purpose committee for supporting such a candidate.

(g)  Section 253.176 applies to the imposition and disposition of a civil penalty under this section.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 6, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.


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